New Jersey is an awesome state, despite those negative stereotypes out there, it has a uniqueness to it that few other states can match. Here are just a few awesome things about this oft-maligned state, thanks for reading.
Hiking through the Pine Barrens- Despite the fact that New Jersey is the USA's most densely populated state, two-thirds of NJ is open space. In the southern part of the state is an area like no other, the NJ Pinelands Reserve. Consisting of well over 1 million acres, this area contains all sorts of natural and unique beauty not found anywhere else in the world. For example, more insect-eating plants are found here as opposed to anywhere else on our planet. Let us not forget about the Pine Barren's most famous resident, the New Jersey Devil. Take a hike through these parts, and one very well may encounter the legendary beast himself, or at least hear his piercing, terrifying screams echoing throughout the barrens. When hiking through this place you'll be amazed by its beauty and stunned by its eeriness all at the same time. At any rate, a hike through the NJ Pine Barrens is a remarkable experience.
Eat great Italian food, basically anywhere- Many Italian immigrants have settled comfortably into New Jersey's confines over the years, and kindly decided to share their culinary expertise with the rest of us. In every town, on nearly every corner, there is an Italian restaurant or pizza shop. Yea, some places are better than others, but they're all basically top shelf. Most of these places have been in the family for generations-keeping that link open to the old country. Every restaurant has its own loyal fan base who will rarely, if ever eat at another Italian restaurant or pizza shop. Now that's loyalty.
The Jersey Shore- No, not the TV show, I'm talking about the experience of visiting the Jersey shore. From Sandy Hook to Cape May, New Jersey's beaches are incredibly awesome. The Florida stream makes the water warmer than one might expect, and New Jersey boasts the most stringent water testing and control in the country. There are miles of uniquely themed boardwalks, with rides, food, and attractions surrounding both sides of the walks. These boardwalks truly outshine any other state's attempt to replicate them. This is a must when visiting the state.
The History- New Jersey, the 'Crossroads of The Revolution', and one of the original thirteen colonies, is full of history at every turn. There are tons of 'George Washington slept here' houses, battlefields, and themes all conveying colonial times. Old, colonial style houses and taverns are everywhere. You might be drinking a beer in the same tavern that old colonial leaders have, some of these establishments seriously go back that far. Even small villages have stories behind them going back into the late 1600's. If you're a history nut, you can't go wrong in Jersey, you can literally feel it in the air.
Weird NJ- Due in part to its unique history, there are many weird things to do and go see in the state other than the touristy areas. Abandoned mental institutions, haunted roads and houses by the dozens, wacky creatures that inhabit sparsely populated areas, it's all here in NJ, and there's plenty of it. So much in fact that there is a monthly magazine, website and a published book with the same title-Weird NJ, detailing the many unusual happenings throughout the state.
The People- When you go out to dinner in some New Jersey towns and cities, you feel like you're at a meeting of the United Nations. You see people of every color and ethnicity conversing and eating good food. Diversity is a great thing and it shows in New Jersey, especially when it comes to appreciating different cultures and enjoying fine dining.
People from New Jersey don't take any crap, are straight shooters who will bluntly speak their mind, and can read a fake person from miles away, which is very refreshing. If they like you, they tell you; if they don't like you, they tell you. Now that's straight shooting! They are definitely patriots of this country, and they are tolerant and understanding. For the most part all New Jerseyans take a deep pride in the state, and get along reasonably well, although there are always exceptions to this rule. Still, there is a unique bind between its citizens that few other states share, go to a Bruce Springsteen concert and this will become very clear.
Thanks for reading, I will report some other positive impressions of this state, and others as well.